What are the implications?

What are the implications?

The Georgia State Legislature passed something of a Religious Freedom Restoration Act in the latest session of the  General Assembly. Now, in spite of what you may have heard in the news, or in press releases from critics, this bill was quite modest. Nonetheless, the cry of “Discrimination!” went up from the hallowed halls of the state capitol in Atlanta.

Why all the hoopla over the Georgia bill? It certainly is not, as I will demonstrate, a discriminatory piece of legislation, nothing like the LGBT groups said it was. The threatened boycotts don’t demonstrate any sort of closely-held principles of the corporations that said they would leave. The entire opposition to the bill was based on lies and misinformation. What was the point?

Listen in and find out what I think was happening.

Mentioned links:

Nathan Deal vetoes Georgia’s ‘religious liberty’ bill

Strict Scrutiny [TheFreeDictionary.com]

Georgia 2015-2016 Regular Session – HB 757

Disney Demands Georgia Let Go of Religious Freedom

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Show transcript

“Discrimination!” That word has become something of a rallying cry when the Left can’t come up with specifics as to why they don’t like this or that action by private or public organizations. Now, you might say that “racism” fits the bill, but that’s just a specific kind of discrimination. Besides, we’ve already discusses Ari’s  Law in show 131 back on January 25th, where Ari Mendelson noted that “racism” really is just valuing something – anything – more than you value multiculturalism. No, discrimination is a bit broader, and can be applied just about anywhere.

They shout it like Tevye  in “Fiddler on the Roof” as he extolled the value of tradition. “Discriminatioooon!” If all else fails, call what they don’t like “discrimination”, and they don’t have to make any intelligent argument. And further, various Leftist organizations will spring into protest, and other various groups will threaten a boycott or something. Doesn’t matter what the issue is, if you can claim discrimination, you’ll get support, even if you can’t prove discrimination, or even if you can’t really say how that discrimination would happen.

The Georgia State Legislature passed something of a Religious Freedom Restoration Act in the latest session of the  General Assembly. Now, in spite of what you may have heard in the news, or in press releases from critics, this bill was quite modest. Nonetheless, the cry of “Discrimination!” went up from the hallowed halls of the state capitol in Atlanta. So, to be clear, here are the highlights of this eeevil bill:

  1. It would allow faith-based organizations to deny services to those who violate their “sincerely held religious belief”. This is why the bill got its nickname, the Pastor Protection Act.
  2. It preserves those organizations’ right to fire employees who aren’t in accord with those beliefs.
  3. It mirrors language found in the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was signed by President Bill Clinton and adopted by dozens of states, requiring government to prove a “compelling governmental interest” before it interferes with a person’s exercise of religion.
  4. It includes a clause saying it could not be used to allow discrimination banned by state or federal law.
  5. It doesn’t apply to businesses. It did at the start, but this got removed in the process of compromise.

So let’s hit each of these points, and see why there is so much opposition to this.

  1. About denying services: Mostly this is for preserving a church’s right not to perform same-sex weddings, or have their facilities used to perform them. Critics keep saying that no one will force churches to violate their beliefs, but they apparently don’t want to give them legal protection from it. And yes, groups like the Salvation Army would still give out food and such to needy gays and lesbians. There’s not a single church out there trying to stop or avoid that.
  2. Regarding firing employees not in accord with the organizations beliefs: This, as I understood it, merely preserved an already existing right. No big deal there.
  3. Regarding the similarities to the federal RFRA, and requiring a compelling governmental interest: This is a classic “limited government” provision; the government can’t get involved unless it can prove that it has a pressing need to. To prove that there is such a compelling interest – what legal scholars also call “strict scrutiny” – the government must show that some new policy, in this case a future bill restricting religious liberty, is necessary to achieve a compelling state interest; things like the right to vote or to privacy. If this is proved, the state must then demonstrate that the legislation is narrowly tailored to achieve the intended result; it’s using a scalpel instead of a chainsaw. Again, this is already the bar to clear at the federal level, and in dozens of states. And in none of these places is the kind of discrimination happening that critics say are inevitable.
  4. As to not allowing discrimination that is already banned by state or federal law, that’s a good thing, right?
  5. And it doesn’t apply to businesses, which, again, is exactly what the critics want, right?

In short, it provides narrow protection for only a handful of Georgians while strictly forbidding any unlawful discrimination. And yet, the LGBT community came out, so to speak, against it. Companies like Disney and the NFL threatened boycotts. Governor Nathan Deal, when announcing that he would veto the bill, said, “I don’t respond well to insults or threats”, but apparently he wasn’t talking about Disney or the NFL; he responds pretty well to their threats. Hey, who says corporations don’t have a voice in our government?

Interestingly, that same NFL that thinks the Georgia bill was discriminatory also gives Louisiana, Florida and Texas the Super Bowl, and they have more restrictive RFRA-type laws than the Georgia one was going to be. And they’re hoping to expand into China in 2018, a country not friendly to gays at all.

And Disney? As I said, Florida has a more restrictive religious freedom law, but somehow their principles allow them to keep operating in that state. Oh, and yes, they are trying to move into China as well.

So then why all the hoopla over the Georgia bill? It certainly is not a discriminatory piece of legislation, nothing like the LGBT groups said it was. The threatened boycotts don’t demonstrate any sort of closely-held principles of the corporations that said they would leave. The entire opposition to the bill was based on lies and misinformation. What was the point?

I would say that it was a trial run of sorts. If the opposition to such a meager bill could be drummed up out of whole cloth, if people could be whipped into a frenzy over something as innocuous as this, they could be manipulated at will over anything. Wave the magic wand and utter the incantation “Discrimination”, and nothing can stop them. Never mind the facts, never mind the lack of actual reasoned debate; the social justice warriors say , “Jump!”, and their foot soldiers ask, “How high?” The result of this trial run? Unmitigated success. This is how far politics and debate have sunk in this country.

I’ve got a closing question for you. Are you actively and intellectually engaged in these issues, or are you merely a minion? I don’t mean to be harsh or accusatory, but you need to consider this to see if you were manipulated. I’ll let you be the judge of that. And I’ll provide a link in the show notes to the actual bill. It’s a few lines over 7 pages, which is a mere wisp of a bill, compared to some that are written. You could knock that out in, oh, 10 minutes or less. Take a look and see what the fuss was really all about.

Filed under: Free SpeechGovernmentMarriageReligionSame-sex Marriage